5 Tips to Help Your Content Go Viral on a Limited Budget


Watching the coverage of Elon Musk‘s Falcon Heavy taking to the skies, I couldn’t help but admire the innovation and expertise on show. But as well as being such a technological tour de force, sending a Tesla out into space was also a marketing masterstroke. 

We’ve got used to seeing brands like Tesla and Red Bull amaze us with incredible marketing stunts. But these companies have enormous budgets and resources to make viral content. How can companies like yours and mine create something memorable, within our means?

I chatted with Bryan Kramer and asked that very question. Kramer is one of the world’s foremost thought-leaders in the art and science of sharing. He originated the “human to human” business concept — the belief that all commercial activity, whether its business to business or business to consumer, is fundamentally human to human. I asked Kramer what ingredients are needed to create content that hits mass appeal. Here are his tips:

1. Keep it simple.

Make it easy for people to get involved and spread your message. Kramer cites simplicity as key to sharing and mentioned the Ice Bucket Challenge as an example. Pour a bucket of water over your head or pay a $100 forfeit. But with every seemingly simple idea, there’s a lot of hard work to do in the background.

Just like the old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall, practice and hard work are important. Whilst the ice bucket challenge went viral in 2014, versions of the challenge existed two years earlier without capturing mass appeal. You’ll fail many times until you find content that gets shared. Experiment with images, video, memes and long-form formats. Try posting at different times. Compare the data that’s generated and refine your content.

2. Make sure it’s shareable.

Making something shareable is easier said than done. With the Ice Bucket Challenge there was an incentive involved–take the challenge and tag others, or pay a fine – so sharing happened quickly and effectively. Other incentives to try could be a prize, or the acclaim of your community.

Content that brings a reaction, preferably positive, delivering good news or something to delight the audience will create shares. Tie in your content with current trends or pose a question that needs to be answered to allow more content to be unlocked.

Research material your community has liked and shared in the past. Knowing what excites and interests your audience and what spurs them into action is crucial.

Creating content that sparks their interest and captures their imagination will translate into shares. Create something that people can’t way to show to somebody else. 

3. Really, properly, know your audience.

Like all marketing ideas, you need to work out who your audience is. Identify exactly who you are targeting. We’ve all had adverts pop up in our timelines for things we’d never consider purchasing. That’s due to poor persona mapping. 

Do your persona homework and drill down into details. Without that, the best ideas will be overlooked or wasted on people who will never respond. No doubt even the marketing teams at Tesla and Red Bull think their budgets aren’t big enough. Everyone wants more budget. But the biggest of budgets is wasted without knowing your audience. 

4. Tap into emotion.

There’s said to be six main emotions–fear, anger, sadness, disgust, joy and surprise. If your content isn’t triggering an emotion than it won’t get anyone’s interest. Kramer explained that when you share with one of those six emotions, the people on the receiving end reciprocate with the same emotion.

If you share joy, they’ll feel joy. If you share surprise they’ll feel surprised. I was certainly surprised to see a Tesla drive off through space, and I couldn’t wait to tell others about it. Understand and choose which emotion you are trying to evoke but make sure it is authentic. If its authentic and it equates to the right emotion then you’ll have a higher likelihood of going viral.

5. Don’t ignore long-form media.

Tell your story differently on each social media platform. And don’t forget email and blogging. You’re talking directly to a person in an email. It’s a more human conversation, even if it’s going out to thousands of people.

Email is the most human to human platform as far as Kramer is concerned. Getting an email address is the start of a conversation. A social response isn’t as deep and won’t necessarily translate into action. Long-form format such as a blog offers the chance to start a conversation and instigate an action or relationship.

Making use of blogging and email is cost-effective in terms of getting content shared, and whether you have the budget of Elon Musk or something much more modest, sharing is what it is all about.

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